During the COVID-19 pandemic, many doctors and nurses throughout New Jersey have been forced to perform their duties in unsafe working environments. Not only do these front-line workers face increased risk for exposure to the novel coronavirus, they also fear losing their jobs for voicing concerns over equipment shortages and other safety issues.
In a recent New York Times article, Theresa Brown, a nurse, writer, and clinical faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, describes the challenges of publicly advocating for safer working conditions when many hospitals have instituted gag orders. In this environment, health care professionals jeopardize their careers and incomes by speaking out. The article concludes with a crucial question: “If the richest country in the world cannot care for its hospital workers, can’t we at least protect their speech?”
Does the First Amendment Protect Hospital Employees Against Retaliation?
If you are experiencing retaliation for exposing unsafe working conditions in the hospital where you work, your whistleblower retaliation case depends almost entirely on whether your hospital is a private or government-run institution. In New York, there is no claim unless it involves a government-run hospital, in which case, the First Amendment applies. In New Jersey, it is a gray area that most likely will not result in a claim.
Going to the newspapers or being interviewed on TV is not considered protected conduct under the First Amendment unless as doctor or nurse, you work for a government-run hospital. But for private hospitals, there is no First Amendment application.
Blowing the Whistle on Private Hospitals
Employees of a private hospitals have rights. As a doctor, nurse, or other health care worker, you can file a valid whistleblower claim under New Jersey law if the following criteria are met:
- You made a complaint in accordance with your employer’s proper chain of command
- Your employer did nothing to resolve your complaint
- You then filed a complaint with a government agency, or you testified before a governmental body
- You suffered retaliation from your employer for blowing the whistle
The best way to determine the merits of your claim is to discuss your case for free with an accomplished whistleblower attorney at Green Savits, LLC. During your complementary initial consultation we will listen to the details of situation and explain all of your legal options.
Contact Our Whistleblower Attorneys Today
If you are considering blowing the whistle on dangerous or illegal treatment by your employer, the knowledgeable attorneys at Green Savits, LLC want to hear your story. We have extensive experience protecting the rights of whistleblowers in both federal and state courts. Call (973) 695-7777 today to discuss your case for free. We proudly serve Northern and Central New Jersey.